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State Farm Invests in Career Readiness Initiatives for UNC Students

This year, State Farm has generously awarded the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) two grants totaling $50,000 as a part of their Good Neighbor Citizenship Grant program.

This year, State Farm has generously awarded the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) two grants totaling $50,000 as a part of their Good Neighbor Citizenship Grant program. By putting students first and equipping them with the resources needed to succeed following graduation, UNC is playing an active role in achieving the program’s goal of building safer, stronger and better-educated communities. 

“State Farm supports programs that provide today’s learners with the tools and resources to help them achieve life skills and an education, equipping them for future opportunities and helping them realize their dreams,” said Kelly Pargett, corporate responsibility analyst at State Farm serving Colorado. “We felt UNC aligned in our values and commitment, which made them a great fit for this award.” 

Striving to make as large of an impact as possible, State Farm chooses to invest in students who go on to better their communities using their education. At UNC, this looks like creating scholarships for students pursuing unpaid internships or work placements and funding workshops and resources that support career readiness. 

“We are proud of the work UNC is doing for its students and are honored to be part of such meaningful work," said Pargett. 

While both grants provide scholarships for students pursuing unpaid internships, the first grant was awarded to the Center for Career Readiness to establish a scholarship supporting students pursuing an unpaid work-based learning opportunity. Tim Nellett, director of Career and Experiential Learning, hopes the funds will remove financial barriers for students who accept unpaid roles for their required internship, student teaching position or practicum experience, but would then need to work additional hours to support themselves. 

“We find a lot of students have degree programs that require [work experiences] already, and we also know, specifically at UNC, a lot of students work, so they're juggling a bunch of competing responsibilities,” said Nellett. 

Any student who is or has pursued an unpaid work-based learning opportunity is eligible to apply for the scholarship. Tackling some of the inequities that are often perpetuated by unpaid work experiences is a top priority for these scholarships. During the candidate review process, the selection committee considers mitigating factors such as little or no expected family contribution to tuition, and if the student is experiencing financial hardship. 

Dean of Student Development Colleen Sonnentag, Ph.D. ’19, is excited to make work-based learning more accessible and to help students overcome financial and systemic barriers.

“These types of work-based learning opportunities are known as high-impact practices—which are defined by students’ achievement of deep learning, significant engagement gains, and positive differential impact on historically underserved student populations,” said Sonnentag. 

The second grant, awarded to the Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business (MCB), will be used to achieve similar goals. In addition to funding multiple scholarships to support students who are receiving an internship for course credit, the grant will also support career readiness initiatives offered by MCB. These experiences include mock interviews, resumé reviews and events such as Networking Night and Career Conversations, where students can engage with professionals in their desired field. 

“The funding received from State Farm will further enhance the quality education students receive at the Monfort College of Business,” said Dean Ken Colwell, “We are grateful to continue to provide career readiness resources and experiences that help prepare our students for success in their desired fields upon graduation.” 

According to a recent survey, 90% of MCB students feel that the professional experiences they’ve participated in have been of value to them. This funding empowers the school’s staff to improve its already proven-beneficial programs and raise student satisfaction rates even higher.  

State Farm's generosity paves the way for student opportunity. When students can pursue professional experiences while in college, it leads to high-quality employment after graduation. The Bear network will continue to grow and flourish thanks in part to this exciting and forward-thinking partnership. 

— written by Tamsin Fleming

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